My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…
THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.
Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.
There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.
Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.
Hawk MacHardcastle stood on the creaking wooden pier which stretched out into the toilet bowl-freshener blue waters of Lake Latrine. His biceps bulged and glistened in the golden July sun. His mane of fiery red hair flowed and rippled on the summer breeze. His burly beard bristled like a proud sea urchin. His massive hands were clenched into fists as he focused his steel-gray gaze on the creature before him.
Hovering in mid-air, having just launched itself from the depths of the lake, a hammerhead shark levitated before him. Its razor-sharp teeth gnashed in burgeoning rage as its fins flapped out a death march. The shark swished its mighty tail and beckoned Hawk to his doom. But Hawk was not doomed—for his punch was mightier than the strike of Thor’s hammer, and he smashed down the uppity shark with one blow. It fell back into the lake with a massive splash, creating a wave like a tsunami on a Japanese beach. An agonized roar followed it to its watery grave.
Hawk drew heaving breaths, his gigantic chest expanding and deflating like a well-oiled bagpipe.
“I came here to find peace,” he rumbled out, and turned his face away. A single tear rolled town his manly cheek. “But peace will never find me.”
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?
Writers are often told to start their story with ‘action.’ This is to draw the reader in, set the tone of the story, and make someone want to read more (including whatever agent/editor you submitted it to). However, overdoing it to start things off with a kick can have the opposite effect of creating interest—making your story seem really absurd instead.
Rather than having your main character punch a levitating shark, start the story in a place where something important to your protagonist is at stake—or has just been lost. In other words, create ‘action’ that will become the reason for pushing the story forward and trying to resolve the situation your protagonist finds themselves in. Give the reader tension and conflict. This doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous, or even particularly ‘action-y,’ as long as the opening resonates emotionally. Making the reader ask “how will this get fixed?” as a hook is much better than a literal right hook.